• Monday, June 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Foreign airlines see prospects in Nigeria despite downturn

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Foreign airlines in Nigeria are seeing prospects in the aviation sector despite economic downturn currently facing the country.

This is in the face of the current aviation fuel scarcity, the foreign exchange strains and the gap in quality infrastructure the sector is grappling with.

“We always take a very thorough and cautious approach. There will be no erratic decisions on our side. The size and magnitude of Nigeria as a market is so immense,” Claus Becker, Lufthansa’s managing director for sub-Saharan Africa, said.

Analysts in the aviation sector say with a population of over 170 million people and a GDP over 13 percent and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’) projections that this number will shoot up to 15 percent very soon, opportunity lies in the country’s economy.

BusinessDay checks reveal that Lufthansa  Airlines flies daily from Lagos to Germany and from Abuja to Germany with a load factor of 70 to 75 seats for each state.

Wole Shadare, a passenger who recently flew with the airline, said the airline had continued to have a good load factor despite the forex scarcity and the economic downturn in the country.

Delta Airline last week deployed a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) baggage tracking technology across its system, including between Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Bobby Bryan, commercial manager for West and East Africa, Delta Airlines, said, “RFID is another example of our investment in the Nigerian marketplace. It offers customers clear visibility of their checked bags and will set a new standard for more transparent, interactive tracking on the Fly Delta mobile app.”

Bryan further said, “Delta’s daily nonstop flight between Lagos and Atlanta has gone from strength to strength, and we continue to be focused on offering the best experience for our customers.”
A few weeks back, a launched first African A350 XWB owned and operated by Ethiopian Airline, touched down at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

Folarin Coker, Lagos State commissioner for tourism, said with the current global crisis of lower oil prices, lower oil production in the country, high exchange rate and the recent departure of two airlines from our country, the arrival of Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s newest A-350 aircraft to Nigeria had a lot of significance.

According to Coker, “the significance is that while the country is learning to take big steps, some airlines may choose to leave but Ethiopian Airlines has chosen to bring the best that is available here in the current global economic planet.”

Nigeria’s passenger traffic for inbound and outbound destinations soared to 21 million in 2014, surpassing the record of 2013, by over 20 per cent.

The growth was attributed to flourishing economic activities, the rebasing of the nation’s economy, during that period, which made the country an investment destination.

Industry analyst, Francis Ayigbe, tied the increase to consistent restoration of passenger confidence in domestic travel, especially with the absence of air crashes.

According to him, the upgrade of airport facilities also boosted confidence of air travelers.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) announced a few months back that the Nigeria’s international airports have been certified approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

This implies that the airports would be recognised worldwide as meeting all safety and security standards and it would receive international recognition and approval for any kind of aircraft to fly and land at the airports. Only very few countries in Africa have received this certification.

Ifeoma Okeke